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News from Egypt

World Cement,

Possible Health Tax
An official with the Egyptian government has said that the Health and Finance Ministries are studying proposals to impose a 10% tax on cement companies to raise funds for public health expenditures. Reuters reports that Egypt is overhauling health care and insurance to improve services for its 78 million people, of whom, according to the United Nations ,about 20% live on less than US$1 per day.

The option of taxing cement companies was now under discussion. Health Minister Hatem el-Gabaly is reported to have said that the government should raise money for health expenses from polluting industries such as those producing tobacco and cement.

Reissue of Licences
It was recently announced that Egypt is set to reissue two cement licences after two companies had their permits scrapped. The country is planning to separately issue eight new cement licences this year, as it aims to increase production capacity to 80 million tpa from 50 million by 2015.

El Wadi Cement and North Sinai Cement had their licences cancelled late last year over start-up delays and financing shortfalls, but were granted 60 days to challenge the decision. In an interview with Reuters, the Head of the Industrial Development Authority is reported as saying, “the licences will be reissued in the same areas to ensure sustained development and the flow of investment to those two areas.”

In February, El Wadi said that it had secured a US$328 million loan from Liechtenstein Bank LLB to build a 1.5 million tpa plant. North Sinai Cement had also secured financing to build a plant in central Sinai with investments of E£1.7 billion.

It seems likely that the Trade and Industry Ministry might not supply those firms who receive the new licences with their energy needs. In other words, those companies will have to secure energy for themselves. The government plans to resume its programme of gradually phasing out energy subsidies to industry from July, after suspending the plan following the onset of the global economic downturn.

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